Defining Mantyhose: Bike Motif Tights from Emilio Cavallini


Let me be clear: bike fashion is about looking good on a bike. It's not about taking regular, unsuspecting, perfectly-serviceable items and covering them with a bike print. No, that stuff doesn't count and I tend to avoid it like I avoid the driver's seat of a car. But but but, I have such a soft spot for novelty tights. I mean, I technically can resist them. At this moment, I do not in fact, own all the tights. But it's a constant struggle.

bike fashion - bike motif tights mantyhose by emilio cavallini

These do it for me on so many levels of fashion nerdiness:

1) Made by Emilio Cavallini. When I went to fashion school in Florence, we got to tour the Emilio Cavallini factory. It's in a tiny Tuscan town that also hosts a truffle festival. (squee!) Anyway, the factory is this very high-tech operation with tons of complicated machines that knit up intricately patterned tights legs. Then little Italian ladies stitch the crotches together (the all-important cotton lining) and package them up. When we toured the factory in 2006, Mr. Cavallini was super excited to show us their latest innovation: a thick pair of tights that imitated the look of denim work trousers. Yes, the Cavallini factory invented jeggings. Eyeballs, you are welcome.

2) I do kinda secretly love stuff that's covered in bikes, but it has to be something I would actually wear. Like you can't just screenprint a bike on a sweatshirt and call it a day.

3) Mantyhose. Hosiery for men. This is not a ridiculous idea. I mean, aggro bike dudes male cyclists already wear full lycra kit. That's basically tights. And the leg warmers that are made to be worn with cycling shorts are basically thigh-high stockings. But there's also a historical precedent. Going back to the middle ages, pantyhose–that is to say, tight socks that extend to the waist–were originally worn by men only.  bike fashion - bike motif socks by emilio cavallini

Also, can we just examine our cultural prejudices that tell us when a man adopts an article of clothing that is coded female, he is considered weak and ridiculous? But when a woman wears a male-coded item, she is considered powerful?

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